Automatic Transmission is Slipping

automatic transmissionReader Question

My car’s automatic transmission with 28,000 miles slips in drive early in the morning when the weather is cold. If I put it in 1st gear it goes good and then I shift to drive it is fine until I stop and then do the same routine 1st then drive. After the car and or weather warms it is fine. Any ideas. The dealership says $3, 000 for a transmission overhaul.


Hi there Dicky,

That is a pretty common complaint when there is internal transmission wear, so the dealership could be correct in thinking a transmission overhaul is due. When the transmission fluid is cold it is thicker and does not flow as easily as if the fluid was hot, so the transmission has to work harder to pump the fluid. If the internal pump is weak or restricted somehow a slipping condition can occur due to low fluid level and pressure.

I would first double check the transmission fluid level and rule out a low fluid level problem. Low transmission fluid levels can cause all kinds of shifting and slipping complaints.

Wowow, that is a LOT of money though, and I would definitely get 3 more quotes, one from another dealership and 2 from local transmission shops. Since you are already experiencing a problem…and it sounds like an overhaul MIGHT be the only remedy I would suggest you have your mechanic service the transmission fluid and filter FIRST and see what happens.

Good video on transmission slipping problems

There could be a chance that the filter is restricted with dirt and debris causing the low flow of transmission fluid. I have also seen transmission filters collapse due to a defect in the filter. Once the filter has collapsed it restricts the flow of fluid that the transmission can pump. Here is a picture of a transmission filter

Normally I would not recommend anyone service the transmission in this type of complaint BUT since you only have 28,000 miles and the dealer says an overhaul is the cure…I would take the chance and try it. A transmission with HIGH mileage with this kind of complaint would not be a good candidate for filter replacement.

The grit and metal shavings that would be found inside a high mileage transmission is acting as friction for the gears. Removing this “friction” via a transmission service and replacing the gritty fluid with slippery clean new fluid would only worsen the transmission slipping problem.

In this instance I would not “flush” the system but rather remove the transmission pan and replace the filter and the fluid.

Here is a simple video showing you how the process and repair takes place

Austin Davis, The Honest Mechanic

Austin Davis,
The honest Mechanic

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